“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23
Immersed in a culture that is obsessed with self-indulgence and instant gratification and regularly advises us to “follow your heart”, the above Proverb might almost seem confusing at best, if not slightly absurd. “Guard my heart? What about my happiness? Isn’t that important? Shouldn’t I just go for all that I want out of this life?” Not a huge surprise that the world would disagree with the Bible on such an issue, though, is it? Jeremiah 17:9 takes this notion even further with these words:
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
So, if we were to translate the world’s advice through a Biblical lens, this is what we would get:
“Follow your deceitful desires.”
Right? I mean, if we truly take God at His Word, if we really believe that what His Word says is true, then doesn’t the world’s advice pale in comparison to God’s wisdom? But in our efforts to do what we want to do, we push wisdom aside and consistently embrace that which makes us feel good and whatever is pleasing to our ears.
The heart, the seat of our emotions, is deceitful. That is what God’s Word teaches. What this means is that our hearts are infected by our sinful nature, and they desire that which is contrary to God and His ways. And although we are consumed with the pursuit of happiness, the Bible seems to be far less concerned with our happiness and much more concerned with our holiness. We are the ones who have it backwards. We want to be happy. We want to feel good. So, we follow our hearts, which are “desperately sick” (ESV). What really struck me this past week is the reality of these simply truths. When we choose to follow our hearts as opposed to guarding them, our desires become deformed. The more we feed on something, the more we will crave it. As our hearts deceive us into sin and all of its fallout, we sadly begin to desire the very thing that we once tried to separate ourselves from: Deformed desires.
One of the most foolish things that we can do is to follow our hearts. Just curious, but I wonder if any of you happen to be anything like me and have ever let your feelings lead you or dictate your decisions only to find that your feelings led you to a bad place in the end. Anybody? I don’t think I’m alone in this. Our emotions will lie to us, deceive us, and constantly play games with our minds. Scripture never tells us to follow our hearts, but rather to guard them from sin and temptation. We are to be led by faith. This is where we must come to a decision to refuse to allow our emotions to lead us any longer and submit to a life led by faith. Whether I feel like it or not, I’m called to faith. I’m called to obedience. Some of you might already be thinking, “Well, is it really faith and obedience if I don’t feel like it?” I would respond to your question with one of my own. Do you think that Jesus felt like going to the cross? No, He didn’t. In fact, He sweat drops of blood in agony over it, pleading with God three times to change the plan. But He went through with it despite His feelings about it. Can you imagine if Christ had let His feelings lead Him? We would be without the hope of salvation. We would be without the cross.
The point: Faith must lead. Feelings must follow. Don’t follow your deceitful heart. It will only lead to deformed desires.